If you're wondering why you should consider the best pet water fountains over standard, simple water bowls, then you may be surprised to hear of the benefits. While anything that enables you to provide cool, fresh water is a must, water fountains go that much further in not only encouraging pets to drink in the first place but in keeping the quality of water at its highest.
Providing water is particularly essential if you're giving your canine or feline companions the best dry cat food or the best dry dog food. These provide no hydration in themselves and that can cause urinary tract infections and problems with their kidneys. You're on safer ground with the best wet dog food and the best wet cat food but even then there's no harm in supplementing their water intake.
But why go for the best pet water fountains? Well, it's interesting to note that our dogs and cats actually prefer running water. You'll see that in the way they’ll migrate towards a river or stream when you're taking them for a walk. Having a fountain with its constant flow of water taps into their evolutionary instinct and they are much more likely to want to drink, particularly if you place it next to their food bowls.
Pet water fountains can also keep the water cooler and because it flows freely, it lets off a greater smell as the chemicals are released, enticing a dog or cat to wander over. Fountains, like the best automatic pet feeders, don't need regular refilling either – they can hold more water than a bowl. With built-in filters in most models, you're also ensuring the water is clean and that there is little time for a build-up of nasties. They tend to be sturdier than a bowl too and less likely to end up being tipped, sending water across your floor.
So what should you look for? Some water fountains are noisier than others, so go for one that's quiet if you're placing it in an area where you're generally likely to be within earshot. Also, think about how easy the water fountain is going to be to clean and whether or not the filters are readily available – you don't want to be hunting around for filters for obscure machines because that's going to become frustrating and potentially expensive.
Here we take a look at the best water fountains available in 2021 and, best of all, none of them entail you having to splash a lot of cash.
PetsRadar's pick of the best pet water fountains
- Best large capacity pet water fountain: PetSafe Drinkwell 3.7 liter Pet Fountain
- Best looking pet water fountain: PetSafe Drinkwell Butterfly Pet Fountain
- Best affordable pet water fountain: Pioneer Pet Raindrop Plastic Pet Fountain - 1.8 litres
- Best quiet pet water fountain: PETKIT CYBERTAIL Pure Drink Water Fountain
- Best water fountain for keeping water clean: PETKIT Smart Drinking Fountain
- Best water fountain for multiple pets: PetSafe Current Pet Fountain Small
- Best for dogs with mobility issues: Zeus Dog Drinking Fountain
PetSafe Drinkwell 3.7 litre Pet Fountain
Best for capacity
Mains powered?: Yes | Capacity: 3.7L | Designed for: Medium to large dogs | Filter: Carbon
This fountain is ideal for both medium-to-large dogs and large (or big-boned, to avoid offense) cats, and although there are fountains with higher capacities, this one strikes the perfect balance – it’s big enough to keep your pet hydrated for hours on end, but compact enough to allow furry friends to rehydrate without the risk of an accidental dunking. As with all fountains, its main selling point is the constant stream of water – in this case, a flow that can be customized depending on the preferences of your pet. The smooth, molded interior is easy to clean, although the same can’t be said for the pump, which (like any water fountain pump) needs to be cleaned regularly to remove any build-ups of saliva or fur – we recommend using a small wire brush for this one. Luckily, the combination of a sponge and carbon filter (which should ideally replaced once a month) does a great job of keeping the water clean and clear.
PetSafe Drinkwell Butterfly Pet Fountain
Best for appearance
Mains powered?: Yes | Capacity: 1.5L | Designed for: Small dogs | Filter: Carbon
A brilliant option for small dogs and cats, this day-glo water fountain is ideal for the style-savvy pet owner. To start with, its spout is topped with a model of a butterfly, and the retina-burning shade of turquoise offers a welcome alternative to the varying shades of grey used for many pet fountains. Four-legged friends won’t need to form an orderly queue, either – four water spouts make it easy for multiple animals to rehydrate simultaneously, although you can also pop off the butterfly topper to create a single water spout. Cleaning this fountain is also incredibly easy – simply take it apart and place the plastic pieces in the dishwasher. The pump needs a quick manual clean twice a month.
Pioneer Pet Raindrop Plastic Pet Fountain - 1.8 litres
Best affordable pet water fountain
Mains powered?: Yes | Capacity: 1.8L | Designed for: Small and medium-size dogs | Filter: Charcoal
Bring some harmony to your household with this pretty dog fountain, which has a yin and yang-inspired shape. The water spout is less like a fountain and more like a gentle trickle – instead of being ejected into the air, the water flows down a narrow channel into a generously-sized bowl. The downside is that the spout isn’t the most accessible one we’ve seen, especially for smaller dogs and cats. On the plus side, Pioneer Pet gets a gold star for the ease with which this can be assembled, as well as the super strong suction cups – nothing’s worse than a full-to-the-brim pet fountain sloshing its way across a kitchen floor.
PETKIT CYBERTAIL Pure Drink Water Fountain
Best quiet pet water fountain
Mains powered?: USB | Capacity: 1.85L | Designed for: Cats and small dogs | Filtration: Triple filtration system
Say hello to the classy and quiet Pure Drink pet fountain from PETKIT. With an almost silent pump that stays below 30db and low energy consumption, it’s the best fountain for 24/7 use.
With a circulation system that provides maximum oxygenation for fresher, tastier water and triple filtration to ensure the water is always clean and drinkable, this simplistic and stylish water fountain will be a hit with both your furkids and you.
The LED indicator light gives you a visual reminder of the fountain’s working status and there’s a choice of smart or normal modes. Available in three colors and powered with a USB cable, this model offers outstanding value for money.
Petkit Smart Drinking Fountain
Best for keeping water clean
Mains powered?: Yes | Capacity: 2L | Designed for: Medium to large dogs | Filter: carbon
A brilliant option for discerning doggies and cosseted cats, this hi-tech water fountain does it all – there are multiple settings (the one you’re most likely to settle on is smart mode, which works on a five-minute cycle, welling up every three minutes before a two-minute rest), a noise-minimizing pump (it produces less than 40db per 50cm radius) and what’s known as an ion-exchange resin, which helps to de-ionize the water. Whether your pet will notice this particular benefit remains to be seen, but two features which definitely earn this fountain some brownie points are the alerts – the light which appears when the filter needs changing, and the alarm which sounds when the water needs topping up.
PetSafe Current Pet Fountain Small
Best for multiple pets
Mains powered?: Yes | Capacity: 1.2L | Designed for: Small dogs | Filter: Charcoal
A great fountain for pets who need a little encouragement to drink enough water, but who might be unnerved by hi-tech fountains which flash, beep and vibrate, this minimalist model might not nab first place in the looks department, but it does what it says on the tin – ensuring your pet has an easily accessible, constant flow of filtered water. Its low profile and dog bowl-inspired shape are less likely to unsettle dogs and cats, although our one gripe is the positioning of the pump – despite the deepness of this fountain’s bowl, the hardware has been placed near the rim, which means you’ll need to keep a close eye on water levels to ensure it doesn’t run dry.
Zeus Dog Drinking Fountain
Best for dogs with mobility issues
Mains powered?: Yes | Capacity: 6L | Designed for: Large dogs | Filter: Carbon
This bucket-style fountain is great for larger dogs, especially ones with mobility issues. This is because the water isn’t emitted in the form of a vertical jet, but a gentle stream which swirls around the fountain’s raised platform, before draining away down the sides. In other words, there’s a constant, gently-swirling pool of water for pets to sip from, and with a six-liter capacity, you won’t need to refill it regularly. Which is especially handy with this model, because the one major downside is the inability to monitor water levels – unlike most water fountains, there’s no open bowl area, so you’ll only know when it’s time to refill once the water runs out.
How to choose the best pet water fountain
Although many water fountains for pets have similar features, our research proved that certain ones are invaluable – the best ones are easy to dismantle and clean, simply because it’s all too easy to underestimate the pump and filter-clogging capabilities of pet saliva, dander and fur.
A device designed to keep water levels topped up also needs some level of stability. With lighter models, grip patches on the base will often be enough to keep the water fountain in place, but with heavier fountains, nothing beats a set of suction cups.
It’s also important to bear in mind that the most common reason people invest in a pet fountain is because of the time it can save – constantly filling your pet’s bowl is thirsty work (excuse the pun). This is precisely why we suggest looking for features designed to save time and minimize stress levels, whether it’s an alarm which sounds when water levels need topping up, a light which indicates the need for a replacement filter, or design which can be easily broken down into dishwasher-proof pieces.
Tamara Hinson is a freelance writer who grew up with huskies but unfortunately now has a husband who is allergic to dogs. Luckily she has a neighbour who lets her dog-sit her Maltese terrier and a nearby greyhound rescue centre where she can walk the residents.
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